This guide explains what mental health crisis services are available, how they can help and when to access them. It also explains how you can plan for a crisis. If you're feeling in crisis right now, see our emergency advice.
You might not like the idea of planning for something you hope won't happen. But it could help to think about what you could do if you start to feel in crisis in the future, and what kind of support you think you might want.
This page has some suggestions for you to consider. Some people find these ideas useful, but remember that different things work for different people at different times.
It could help to explore possible options for support when things are less difficult, so you have information ready for times when you might need it. For example, you could:
Talking to people close to you about how you'd prefer to manage a crisis can be a good way to plan for the future. It could be helpful to write down what you've decided, so you both remember what you've said.
For example, you could let them know:
You could also discuss whether your friend or family member might feel able to act as your advocate. (See our pages on advocacy for more information).
'"Luckily I had fantastic support from friends and family."
In some situations, experiencing a mental health crisis might mean that you become unable to make decisions about your treatment (in legal terms, this is called losing capacity).
If you're worried about losing capacity, you might decide to make an advance statement. This is a written statement about what you would like to happen if you lose capacity, such as:
You could ask your GP, care coordinator, psychiatrist or other health care professional to help you make an advance statement. For more about what you might include, see the Rethink Mental Illness website.
Examples of advance statements include:
Joint crisis plans (also known as JCPs) are a type of advance statement agreed between you and any health care professionals involved in your treatment. This could include:
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published recommendations on what to include – you can read these on the NICE website. You might also decide to include other information, for example, details of medication you're taking or any allergies you have.
A crisis card is a small card you carry in your wallet, purse or pocket with key details about how you'd prefer to be helped in a crisis, so you can easily find it or show it to other people. You might decide to tell people you know, such as friends or family, about the card and where you keep it.
This information was published in October 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.